Thomas Merton from Raids on the Unspeakable

“And to have the will to be saved, must one limit oneself very carefully to a few select things that are taken seriously? And must everything else be ignored? In other words, to be saved is to exclude from consideration the possibility that one might be damned?

To take that possibility of damnation seriously is, then, to be lost?

But how do anything else? How not to take it seriously?

(Think of the unspeakable triviality of popular religion which consist in not taking the possibility of damnation seriously anymore!

To be saved, is then, to be rescued from all seriousness!

To fall into the ludicrous and satanic flippancy of false piety, kitsch, Saint Suplice!–or the euphoria of busy and optimistic groups!)

So, unless you can falsify and dominate reality with will, you are lost–and if you can impose your own obsession on reality (instead of having reality impose itself as an obsession on you) then are you perhaps doubly lost?

The question of this book, the deeper question, is the very nature of reality itself.

Inexorable consistency. Is reality the same as consistency?

The world of consistency is the world of justice, but justice is not the final word.

There is, above the consistent and the logical word of justice, and inconsistent illogical world where nothing “handing together,” where justice no longer damns each man to his own darkness. This inconsistent world is the realm of mercy.

The world can only be consistent without God.

A god who is fitted into our world scheme in order to make it serious and consistent is not God.

To take him seriously is to submit to obsession, to doubt, to magic, and then to escape these, or try to escape them, by willfulness, by the determination to stake all on an arbitrary selection of “things to be taken seriousely” because they “save,” because they are “his affairs.”
(Note that even atheism takes seriously this god of consistency.)

The Cross is the sign of contradiction–destorying the seriousness of the Law, of the Empire, of the armies, of blood sacrifice, and of obsession.

But the magicians keep turning the Cross to their own purposes. Yes, it is for them too a sign of contradiction: the awful blasphemy of the religious magician who makes the Cross contradict mercy! This of course is the ultimate temptation of Christianity! To say that Christ has locked all the doors, has given one answer, settled everything and departed, leaving all life enclosed in the frightful consistency of a system outside of which there is seriousness and damnation, inside of which there is the intolerable flippancy of the saved–while nowhere is there any place left for the mystery of the freedom of divine mercy which alone is truly serious, and worthy of being taken seriously.”

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